Monday, 7 November 2011

Dad's Pet Squirrel

When I was really young we lived in a great little 50's style bungalow that seemed huge at the time but I now know was a tiny little cottage of a house. My older brother and I shared a bedroom at the back of the house with sliding glass doors that went out to the back yard and pool. I can still remember the sights and sounds of that house. The smell of popcorn on the weekends when we would watch a tv movie. The smell of mom's cigarettes and the sounds of laughter. The carpet was reg shag and the furniture modern and black. It was the 70's and we were just like every other family. There was string art on the walls and giant ceramic dogs on the floor. Ash trays were like sculpture and had buttons with trap doors.
We often woke up very early on Saturday mornings staring at the test pattern on the TV waiting for the cartoons to begin. Back in those days TV wasn't 24 hours and you had to wait, listen to the national anthem and a long old speech by the network about signal towers before the slide shows of cowboys and Indians and such would lead to the cartoons.
Usually it was in this waiting period that we often got into trouble. Mom and Dad would be asleep and we would creep around the house trying not to wake them. I would use the drawers in the kitchen as steps to get over the stove to get the cereal that mom thought we couldn't reach. We would giggle and laugh and eat the puffed rice from the bag.
One day, my brother and I heard a noise from the backyard. We looked out our glass doors and saw something in the pool trying to get out. It looked like a cat. We ran to our Dad and woke him to get out and rescue the cat. Clearly Dad was not impressed to be woken up at 6am to see to a cat in the pool but he went out to the yard nonetheless. Now Dad loved a challenge and if he was going to save that cat, that cat was going to know who saved it. Trust me.
So Dad got close enough to see it was not a cat at all but a squirrel and it was at this point unconscious. He lifted it out of the pool and carried it like a baby into the house where he proceeded to save this wild little critter. He was slowly bringing this squirrel back to life and it apparently appreciated what he was doing as it just laid in his arms. Now I am not sure if you have ever smelled a squirrel as it gets blow-dried by a 1970's hairdryer but if you had you would never forget it.
Dad was sitting on the edge of the tub blowdrying the squirrel.... yes, you read that right. He was blow drying the squirrel when suddenly this very much alive, hot squirrel realized that some dude was holding it next to a hot windy machine it and fucking freaked! Well it was as if the side came out of the house! The squirrel went one way making a blood curdling sound and we all ran the other way screaming in terror. There was a terrified half wet squirrel loose in the house and suddenly the hunt was on. I remember it running sideways up the length of moms lovely living room curtains and Mom screaming at it to stop shitting on her drapes! I remember dad picking up a milk crate that he kept records in and chasing the squirrel with the milk crate in one hand, the record in another saying things like "You son of a bitch, I saved your fucking life and this is what you do?" Our house had turned into a war zone and chaos was everywhere. Clearly the squirrel was winning this war.
In time the squirrel was caught. I supposed it was because it collapsed in exhaustion and dad was able to put it in his milk crate and bring it outside and throw it back into nature. I really don't know what happened to that squirrel in the end but I know that every time I see a squirrel I think of my father, young and bearded, running around the house trying to catch that God damned ungrateful squirrel that he thought could be his little blow-dry buddy.

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